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Hacking is the term for gaining unauthorized access to computer systems and networks, typically to steal personal or organizational data. It became popular in the 1980s as the Internet was developed and personal computers became widely available to the general public.

Hackers may be motivated by a variety of reasons. Some are out for financial gain, stealing passwords or credit card information and selling it on the dark web. Others are simply seeking revenge on people, businesses or nations that they feel have wronged them. A growing number of hackers are nation states, using their skills to spy on or disrupt the political or military enemies of their state.

Other hackers use their skills for technical gains such as finding bugs in software or improving existing programs. Some hackers, known as “ethical hackers”, test for security flaws and advise companies where to strengthen their defenses against malicious hacking attempts.

There are also hackers who target specific targets for social or political reasons. These types of hackers, called black hats, often cause a lot of damage with little or no financial gain. Examples include revealing confidential information, posting embarrassing material on the Internet or disrupting websites with so-called “denial of service” attacks (or DoS).

Finally, there are hackers who are out to spread propaganda and disinformation through their cyberattacks. For example, in a recent attack on a major British newspaper, hackers displayed to visitors a tasteless fake headline claiming the death of the paper’s owner Rupert Murdoch.